A sensitive and selective solid phase extraction procedure for the determination of traces of Cu(II), Zn(II), Pb(II) and Fe(III) has been developed. An alumina-sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) coated on with meso-phenyl bis(indolyl) methane (MPBIM) was used for preconcentration and determination of Cu(II), Zn(II), Pb(II) and Fe(III) ions by flame atomic absorption spectrometry. The analyte ions were adsorbed quantitatively on adsorbent due to their complexation with MPBIM. Adsorbed metals were quantitatively eluted using 6 mL of 4 mol L-1 nitric acid. The effects of parameters such as pH, amount of alumina, amount of MBITP, flow rate, type and concentration of eluting agent were examined. The effects of interfering ions on the separation-preconcentration of analytes were also investigated. The relative standard deviation of the method was found to be less than 3.0%. The presented procedure was successfully applied for determination of analytes in real samples. (c) 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.